I completed the work I am exhibiting at The Talented Art Fair over dark Winter months, I'm calling them Floral Abstracts. I paint contemporary landscapes too, although the thought of standing outside while my fingers froze didn’t appeal, so I decided to work on this new collection.
I have spent the best part of 18 years photographing flowers and gardens for magazines so my mind has many, many images burned onto it. And I love them, does it show? You see, I thrive on colour and flowers, it might be cheesy to say this but they bring my soul to life.
These paintings are somewhat abstract, some more than others. Tulips and roses a common theme. Tulips because I love them, to me they mean Spring and all that promise. Roses because they are just so paintable and who doesn’t love roses? But most of all I have enjoyed shutting myself in my studio in the lovely town of Frome and playing with paint. I did it as a child and I still get the same enjoyment today.
Many of these paintings have more than one layer. The first is an underpainting of acrylic this gives an interesting texture. Acrylics dry in an instant so I can then overpaint with oils, which for me are much more forgiving and pliable. I move the paint around with palette knives and rags, occasionally using a brush and see what evolves, what shapes appear on the canvas and then develop the painting around them. In general, my paintings are intuitive rather than planned.
I have enjoyed painting on large canvases too. You need to be brave, a large white canvas is pretty intimidating but the results have been exciting.
Shortly before I came here I moved them all to my home. For a few days, I was surrounded by vivid colour and nature and it felt incredible, uplifting. I hope they lift your spirits on this bitterly cold and icy 'Spring' day.
.Come along to The Talented Art Fair this weekend 3-4th March 2018 to see and even buy part of this collection.
1 You will own something unique.
2 This piece of art will speak to you, uniquely. You will see the texture of the paint, brush marks and nuances of colour that you simply don't get from a print.
3 You are but a step away from the artist themselves.
4 Friends may admire your artwork too.
5 Your artwork will last for years, it's not like a car or an expensive suit.
6 It will bring you joy pleasure.
Are you posting Tweets and wondering why they aren't getting liked or shared?
Here's the reason...
Quality content is ... essential
So what is quality?
And although it is not an unbreakable rule there is one common theme in each of these points.
So, when you're planning your content strategy put visuals on your must have list.
What's the anatomy of a well structured post?
Now put in a link to your website/facebook page/instagram account...where ever you want people to go to see more of your work/business etc
You now have the option of pinning a key Tweet to the top of your feed.
And finally. If you don't share then why would anyone else share your stuff?
BE GENEROUS and RT (retweet) stuff that fits with your content strategy.
So you've signed up to Twitter, or maybe you've been using it for a while.
You have a handful of followers and you follow a bunch of people
How can you really make it work for you?
Why are you using Twitter?
Because you want to find potential clients?
Lets suppose you are an engineer and want to find more architects to work with, here's how you go about it...this works on the desktop site as it has more functionality, not the mobile site which is simplified.
Click on the search bar and type in #architects.
You then have an option to look at
So click on
More options on the far right...
...a drop down menu has various options, you want near you. This opens another screen where you can type in your location and a whole lot of other stuff to narrow your search. Start with location and see what you get.
Scroll through the results, pick on someone you like the look of and
You see, Twitter is a soft way of getting yourself noticed.
The key to the success of this strategy is what you post, your voice.
So what do you post?
REGULARLY...not once a week or month when you have something interesting to say.
Several times a day.
Not all at once, set yourself a shedule.
A tool like Buffer is great for this.
That way you aren't chained to Twitter.
You take a little time to work things out then leave the software to work in the background for you.
Now, watch your business grow.
Google finds it difficult to 'read' images. Soon, I'm sure the technology will be there. But for now there are 2 ways that you can post images that will enhance your noticeability in searches.
Always name your images.
So rather than posting an image that is called 143335.jpeg
You call it nigel_slater_cook.jpeg
Google will recognize that name and the link to your image may pop up in searches.
The second tip is to complete the alt text (alternative text) for key images on your website.
Text assigned to images allows the viewer to understand what they are looking at if the image doesn't display.
In other words it is describing, in words what the picture is saying.
So, alt text for the image above could read: '
portrait of Nigel Slater cook and writer at Chelsea Flower Show 2014 photograph Lynn Keddie'
Not, 'portrait of a man'
How many words?
What do I say?
Be specific and use relevant keywords
How do I put it in?
Alt text is placed in the code.
If you use Wordpress there are plugin's available which make it super easy.
Or, if you use other software such as Weebly there are simple ways to include this information, the programming does the rest.
So that's it, a simple way to boost your search engine rankings and keep Google happy.
I keep banging on about it, but visuals are really important when trying to get your message across be it to potential customers, blog readers or whoever.
And they must be good to stand out.
As social media gets ever more popular to market business you need to up your game.
You need to be better than the best.
There are two possible solutions to this problem:
* Hire a pro-photographer, or
* Take the shots yourself
Hiring a professional who you brief well will pay dividends in the long run, but maybe that's not in your budget right now. So here are some sure fire tips on how to get the best photos to look like they were taken by a pro.
1 You don't need a fancy SLR. Ok I know, I know you're thinking surely if you have a great camera you will get great pictures. Err, no that's not how it works.
2 You can use an SLR camera by all means but these days a recent and good quality smart phone will produce as good if not better images. Set it up to take the highest quality images. Usually 4 mg images and above will be adequate to print up to A4 if you need this and you can scale down for web use.
You choose but don't think that just because you don't have a fancy camera you can't take fancy pictures!
3 Take the time to set up your shot and use natural light where ever possible. Not direct sunlight, it is not your friend. Filtered light from a window works perfectly. Watch for shadows and use a mirror or white paper to bounce light back onto the subject.
If you have to shoot in artificial light use photo editing software to adjust the colour temperature, I explain this here, it's easy!
4 Compose your picture - there are some great tips here.
Don't clutter the image and think about the colours you use.
Remember this rule of thumb, keep it simple.
5 No wonky horizons or product shots that look as though they are slipping off the table.
Giddy angles are not good to look at, you want people to like your products so don't make them feel sick looking at them!
6 Make sure you post shots that are in focus. Do not post bad shots, even if it's the only one you have. Start again and post a great shot.
7 By all means use filters if you want to get an emotion or feel of something across.
But if you want someone to buy a product your best bet is to photograph it simply, showing the true colours (no filters) and post several shots showing the product at different angles and in use.
8 Post the right resolution. This is important in particular for your blog or website as the time it takes to load images has a negative impact on bounce rate. In other words, if someone has to wait to view an image they will most likely click off your website and you've lost a potential customer. You canfind out optimum sizes here and again, it's not as difficult as it sounds and worth the effort.
9 Try using Canva, Picmonkey orPablo three great online software tools for designing great images. Overlay text onto your shots. Not every single one, but your headers and where you think it will work.
Keep your fonts very simple, don't go crazy!
10 And one final tip. Practice! Yes, practice does make you a better photographer. And look at what other photographers are doing and see if you like it you can develop their ideas for your own use.
And most importantly, have fun.
Now visuals are even more important to gain interest and a following on social media it's vital to post the best images possible on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and the like.
You must stand out and posting great, relevant images has been proven to work over and over again.
Size is important
Post the correct size for each platform. You can read about it here or use Canva to create one post and it magically converts the image to every different size.
It's not just about size, you need to pick the best orientation for each social platform too so using the right image is important too otherwise a great image may be cropped or not have the best effect.
Here are some guidelines on orientation for some of the main social platforms.
Square or landscape both work.
Post landscape shots unless you want most of the image cropped in the feed.
If that happens there is no incentive for your followers to click on the image unless they are very, very curious.
Have introduced landscape as well as square, although they are cropped to square in your feed. You need to click on the image to get the full shot.
The screenshot of Foundrs feed shows this. Steve Jobs image (3rd down on the right) has been cropped.
When you click on the image you see the whole story, not great and a bit of a fudge to accommodate both landscape and square format images.
Portrait wins hands down, landscape images look tiny and lost.
In the screenshot below, the earrings and Iris pop out, the cake in comparison is tiny.
Blink and you'll miss it!
Both portrait and landscape get an equal share and both look good
Landscape although like Twitter there is a specific size and if your lead image doesn't fit into it it will automatically be cropped.
With a bit of planning and some help from some really great software like Canva you can make the very best of your visual social media posts.
As a photographer and a social media coach I am often asked what makes a good profile picture for business social media. So here goes this is what I would advise everyone.
Which leads me nicely onto another don't.
This is about YOU, showing YOU in your best light
People want to see what YOU look like NOW,
They want an open, friendly face so...
LOOK STRAIGHT into the camera lens.
That way you are making eye-contact with people looking at your profile shot.
Don't use a grumpy or angry looking shot.
I've seen all these, I kid you not.
ask some trusted friends if the one you choose fits the criteria.
Remember trusted. Ask people who will be honest with you. If it's not OK they
will tell you.
Here's a handy infographic, share it with your friends and colleagues (unless you don't like them!)
Visual social media is now a hot topic in marketing.
It's not really surprising visuals: photographs and videos have been selling products for years.
Our brain process images better than text and done well they work.
These days all social media platforms have got their head round this and provided us with great ways of presenting images.
Engagement increases by around 30% with a photo and 20% with video.
That's the great news.
OK there is some bad news...
Done badly it could really damage your business whether that business is you, a service you sell, or your products.
What are your options to get great photos?
How can you stand out from the crowd?
You must differentiate.
Don't have the budget?
There is one more route you can take, no it's not ripping off photos and hoping nobody will notice as copyright infringement comes with a hefty fine.
You can take your own photographs!
Want to find out more? Read on...
Get into the habit of taking photos all the time.
You may have a story/blog/brochure or quote you want to illustrate already in mind so think around the subject, don't always opt for the obvious.
Photos can illustrate all sorts of things, here are a selection of mine, most of these are shot with a small compact or my smart phone
or be the cover of a brochure about healthcare or,
inspiration for a colour palette
Be creative with your composition. We don't need to see the child in the photo but it still tells a story, (you must have written parental consent for publishing shots of under 18's in the UK)
Leave a little bit to the imagination, and there's plenty of space to overlay text that will read.
Look for evocative images. Everyone likes the sea....Usethe rule of thirds to compost your picture
This image is perfect for a quote which can then be used in Twitter, Pinterest etc
Or it could be used for an invitation, an illustration for a brochure...the list goes on.
I hope I've given you food for thought.
Keeping things tidy...
I used Canva to overlay text. It's a really cool design tool.
In five years time, you will thank me for this advice. Build your own library, it's valuable and it's yours.
... and how to fix them
Visual images on social media get a lot more engagement than text alone. On every platform; Twitter see's a massive 35% increase in engagement. Facebook too, even the platform for professionals Linkedin is driven by visual imagary.
How do you stand out from the crowd?
By posting GREAT images.
Not everyone is a professional photographer but there are two errors that lots of people make. And bad photos don't get noticed.
I'm going to tell you what they are and show you how easy it is to fix them, so you can look like a pro photographer every time.
It drives me nuts every time a see a horizon that is sloping off to the left or right.
Unless it's a deliberate 'artistic' gesture (no I know it isn't) then this is how you fix it.
Go into your picture editing software, if you're on a smart phone then it's right there. Chose rotate image and do just that. Save it, then post. It's that simple.
If you're posting to Instagram you can do this in the app.
Go to the spanner icon and click adjust. It's easy to get it right because you even have a grid to follow.
Twitter's new in app photo tools are still somewhat rudimentary and don't yet offer this but I'm sure they will be soon.
Pinterest lives and dies on great imagery so get this right before you post.
The next one is for all you foodies, food bloggers or restaurant owners.
A yellow cast on pictures of food
Yes, you've seen them, maybe you've even posted them. The food sitting in front of you looks good enough to eat, so you want to share the moment with your followers and friends, and why not?
So you take a snap and before you know it a sickly looking image of your gourmet meal is shared forever with the world and it doesn't look appetising, if you're lucky some kind friends will like your post. And if you're a restaurant owner? Well, you won't have customers beating down your door.
Why does this happen?
It's really simple. The colour temperature in artificial light is different to daylight. Your brain adjusts to this, we're just clever like that. But cameras record things faithfully. The colour of light in restaurants is often warm (more orange to give a cosy feel), in labs and studios it's often colder, more blue.
You need to adjust this. Before you post your photograph you need to adjust the colour temperature. This is so easy.
Look for tone and temperature on your smart phone and adjust it to look more like something you would like to eat, usually introducing a little more blue if it's yellowy and yellow if it looks cold.
Save your image then post it and wait for the applause!
Instagram makes this easy.
Go to the spanner icon and select warmth, adjust the slider to get the desired colour temperature. Then post.
So, no more excuses. It's what pro photographers do all the time, it's not difficult or even time consuming and it makes your images shine above the rest.
Thanks for reading. If you want any more useful hacks for your social media empire let us have your email and we will remind you what is coming up! No spam.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.